As a digital PR agency, we understand the value of taking the best bits from the traditional PR world, and further amplifying them through new and different channels. A perfect example of the best of both worlds is throwing a radio PR campaign day into the mix when launching a new product or service.
Let’s start with the basics: what is a radio pr campaign? It’s usually a single broadcast day in which you push to maximise a PR campaign’s reach via radio (and sometimes TV as well). It usually involves a spokesperson, working from a studio for the day to get the company’s message out on as many relevant radio and TV programmes as possible.
When planning and launching any campaign, there are loads of moving parts, and this is especially true if you decide to bring broadcast into the mix. Having run a bunch of successful radio PR campaigns, we’ve put together some tips to help you get the most out of yours.
Choose your story
The window for coverage in radio PR campaigns is narrow. That means that once you’ve reserved the studio, and the spokesperson’s time, it’s critical that you secure as many slots on radio and TV programmes as possible. To do that, you need to choose a story that will grab producers’ attention.
Producers and program organisers, on both TV and radio, are fundamentally numbers driven. Their main concern is finding content that will be of maximum interest to their audience, will get people talking, and keep people tuned in. If your story is something the media has covered a lot recently, then consider coming at it with a fresh take.
When you’re choosing your angle, make sure to get opinions from different stakeholders – your PR agency, your broadcast partner, and people from across your company – as that experience will help steer the story in a newsworthy direction. Don’t be afraid of considering multiple angles: it’s better to change your mind to go down another path than to go for a weaker story and limit the campaign’s impact. Do your research and find an angle that appeals to the outlets you’re targeting.
Co-ordinating with print and online PR
Another crucial element is co-ordinating your broadcast efforts with your work on other PR channels. This can make a huge difference in how far the message spreads and how professional the organisation appears. Pitch the online and print media the day before you broadcast so that the story appears to viewers, listeners and readers simultaneously. Critically, be clear about where people can go for more information, usually a simple hashtag or URL, and make it catchy and easy to remember.
It’s also important to make sure the messaging of your brand, the story of the brand and the reason this campaign exists in the first place doesn’t get lost. Making sure the connection is there and that it’s easy for it to come through in interviews is a tricky – but important element of the story generation and moulding process.
Timing and matching the media agenda
We recommend doing everything possible to avoid planning your radio PR campaign on the same day as another major event. The larger event will inevitably consume all of the media’s attention, leaving your efforts far less effective than they may otherwise have been. If, for instance, you expect the chancellor to announce the new budget on your planned broadcast day, you can be sure that the media agenda will be focused on the contents of the red briefcase and not your campaign.
Wherever possible, move your launch to a clearer day. Media planners such as Janet Murray’s media dates diary and a bit of research go a long way here. Some patient observation will quickly reveal which days are emptier for the media and therefore better for you to target. Keep in mind that typical sell-in to the broadcast media starts at least a week in advance. This varies depending on whether the programme focuses on news or features, with the latter often having more rigid planners.
Of course, the nature of the news business means that there will always be a risk that you launch your campaign and are still overshadowed by an outbreak of a deadly virus, or the US President tweeting “covfefe,” but hey, sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
Preparing your spokesperson
Your spokesperson plays a huge role in getting the message across and generating media interest, so it’s not something to do by halves. It’s important to choose the lead headline or story before you settle on a spokesperson. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s really important. The spokesperson needs to be able to speak confidently on the topic and, ideally, has a history and reputation in the industry.
It’s perfectly valid to choose someone from within your company, but media training is non-negotiable. It’s also preferable that the spokesperson has engaged with the media before, as this reduces the risk of nervousness. Try not to let company politics play too big a role in choosing the spokesperson: if the CEO is the ideal person from a subject matter and charisma perspective, that’s great. If not, investigate your other options, as it’s always better to have someone who is confident speaking about the topic than someone senior stumbling or making simple mistakes.
Once you’ve chosen your spokesperson, the next step is to prepare them for your radio PR campaign. Brief them on every detail of the announcement, throw them questions designed to put them off balance, and do your homework about the various personalities that they’ll be speaking with throughout the day.
Another factor which can be overlooked is your spokesperson’s accent. From a clarity standpoint, you need to choose someone who is widely understandable across regions. This means choosing someone without a thick accent who enunciates clearly and speaks in a measured tone.
Availability and regionality
One challenge to contend with on the day is scheduling. The unfortunate reality with a radio PR campaign day is that many opportunities will only come through on the day itself – if you’re lucky, they’ll come through the day before.
To be safe, it’s best for your team and the relevant spokespeople to block out most of the day and be agile enough to adapt to a changing schedule. Typically, most media opportunities will come in between 8 AM and 2 PM. Occasionally, some requests for interview also come in in the following days, so make sure your spokesperson isn’t jetting off for a celebratory holiday just yet. Fundamentally, you need to fit producer’s needs and the schedules of their shows, and it’s better to be ready and flexible than potentially miss out on some great hits.
One mistake that many companies make is discounting opportunities simply because they’re not national-level programmes. This is a terrible missed opportunity. There are hundreds of local radio stations in the UK, including the regional BBC channels, and they have a significant listenership. Any opportunity to get your story out there is a chance for your story to land, so don’t turn down local media unless you absolutely have to.
During the research phase, try to find some regional demographic breakdowns of the data, as these are perfect for tailoring your story to different regions and appealing to local stations.
Finding your studio
If you want your radio PR campaign to be a success, you need to have your spokesperson in a dedicated broadcast studio for the day. This should come with a producer or technical specialist who can ensure that tech doesn’t let you down. Radio producers will only be interested in your story if they believe it is interesting, your spokesperson has credibility and the audio will be crystal clear – you cannot get away with radio interviews over a mobile phone.